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Policy & Enforcement Briefing: BP Trial, Forest Emissions, FTC Hits Window Claims

BP and plaintiffs suing over the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill are discussing a $14 billion settlement that appears to be nearing completion. A federal judge in New Orleans delayed a liability trial to allow additional time to continue settlement talks. The proposed agreement would be separate from BP’s talks with government lawyers, who have sued over pollution claims tied to the spill, Bloomberg said.

The EU is drafting legislation that will require the forestry and farming sectors to monitor and report from 2013 any land use changes that impact greenhouse gas emissions. The proposal does not include firm targets for limiting land use change, and does not include the sectors in the EU’s Emissions Trading Scheme. The EU must prevent loss of forests to meet commitments to the UN as well as its own emissions reductions targets, Reuters reports.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has settled charges against five companies – Serious Energy, Gorell Enterprises, Long Fence & Home, THV Holdings and Winchester Industries – for allegedly making unsupported claims about the energy efficiency of their windows. The settlements prohibit the companies from making marketing claims that are not backed by scientific evidence. For example, some window marketers claimed that consumers could cut their energy bills in half by using replacement windows alone, the FTC said.

Monsanto has settled a series of class action lawsuits with residents of West Virginia who claimed they suffered environmental and health problems tied to pollution from a former Monsanto chemical plant in Nitro, West Virginia. The company said it would commit to more than $90 million in clean-up, remediation and medical monitoring to resolve the suits, Reuters said.

The Subcommittee on Energy and Power and the Subcommittee on Environment and the Economy have scheduled a hearing for tomorrow to review the FY 2013 EPA Budget. The hearing will serve to analyze the budget proposal and identify areas to reduce spending.  Also on Tuesday, the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations will hold a hearing on “Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity: Assessments of Smart Grid Security” to review the grid’s vulnerability to attacks.

The Subcommittee on Water and Wildlife also will meet on Tuesday for a hearing entitled “Local Government Perspectives on Water Infrastructure.” Witnesses include the mayor of Baltimore, the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission and the Alabama Rural Water Association.

The British government has called for proposals to build at least one carbon-capture and storage (CCS) power plant. The notice document in the European Union’s official journal showed the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) expects Britain’s first CCS project to start operating between 2016 and 2020, and calls for a wide range of engineering projects for CCS, including construction of a power plant, gas storage and pipelines, Reuters reports.

The Governing Council of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) made a commitment at the end of its three-day annual meeting in Nairobi to ensure that the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) later this year succeeds in developing concrete actions to address global environmental challenges. More than 100 countries, including members of the African Union and the European Union, also have backed a proposal to upgrade UNEP to a fully-fledged specialized agency of the UN as part of the Rio+20 outcomes, the UN News Centre reports.

U.S. Geological Survey has estimated the potential of undiscovered, technically recoverable onshore shale oil and gas resources in Alaska’s North Slope. The estimates range from 0 up to 2 billion barrels of oil and from 0 up to 80 trillion cubic feet of gas. Primarily due to economic and infrastructure considerations, production has never been attempted from these Alaska North Slope shales, which are largely outside the environmentally sensitive Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, the USGS said.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has dismissed a preliminary permit application from Wyco Power and Water, Inc. (Wyco) to study the feasibility of a proposed 501-mile-long buried water supply pipeline from two sources in Wyoming to a proposed reservoir near Pueblo, Colorado. More than 20 groups filed motions to intervene including the Colorado River Water Conservation District, Sierra Club, Wyoming Outdoor Council and the National Parks Conservation Association.

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